Art rises from the east, supported by the west .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Diyarbakır Arts Center, or DSM, which got its start six years ago with the simple premise of cultivating the arts beyond Istanbul, is staring at a bleak future. In its short tenure, the center has become a leading arts and culture center in Turkey. And yet, inadequate funding has been crippling its efforts to spice up the arts scene in Diyarbakır

When it opened six years ago, people in Diyarbakır were as curious and excited as guests coming from Istanbul. People questioned if it was possible to take art outside Turkey’s largest city, or if the city of Diyarbakır was ready for it. These questions were answered with the ambitious work that was done by an eager team.

Opened by Anadolu Kültür, a not-for-profit company, established in 2002 with the participation of individuals and institutions from various venues of arts and culture, Diyarbakır Arts Center, or DSM, presented Turkish and international works to local art lovers. By opening a movie theater and exhibition hall, it also sustained the knowledge of local people.

The arts center not only survived but has also expanded and developed over the years.

It welcomes many art and cultural events in its gallery, its multipurpose hall, stage, technical rooms and offices. The DSM has a mission to promote works produced by local artists and thinkers, whose voices have not been heard in recent decades.

The east and the west
The DSM was established between two cities: Diyarbakır, the "west of the east", and İstanbul, the "east of the west". The center aims to bring the people, artists and creative energies of these two cities together for collaboration on artistic and cultural production. Now seven years old, the DSM is more independent. Although they work with different associations, they arrange the program of the arts center and its index utilizing local knowledge. Talking to daily Radikal, coordinator of Anadolu Kültür, Cengiz Çiftçi, said when they started the project to establish Diyarbakır Sanat Merkezi their aim was finding a solution to the problems caused by migration. "By investing on culture and arts we wanted to build up an infrastructure and carried exhibitions and projects from Istanbul to Diyarbakır. We cooperated with all the people in Diyarbakır to create a communication network," said Çiftçi.

Director of the DSM, Melike Coşkun, said the DSM was not only an arts center but also a transformation project. "It is not only a place where people can see activities, visit exhibitions and watch plays, it is also where people of all ages can produce art," said Coşkun.

According to Coşkun with the DSM, people who had no possibility to access art were given the chance to be involved in projects with the opportunities offered by the arts center. "We also host international artists, and we are open to people who want to represent interesting works," said Coşkun and added, "We also consider the identity of the city."

Diyarbakır is not an ordinary city. It is a city where the Kurdish identity stands out. According to Coşkun, the conflicts going on around Turkey triggered the feeling of nationalism that is why the freedom of representing a cultural identity is limited. "We want people to express their identities via art," said Coşkun and added, "We want people to use their language."

Noting that earning the trust of people in Diyarbakır was not too easy, Çiftçi said they had a difficult time letting people know what they are doing and why they opened the DSM.

"We made clear what we were planning to do and cooperated with many associations, municipalities and NGO’s. We are here for discovering the dynamics," said Coşkun who thinks there is a big potential in Diyarbakır.

Even though they Coşkun and Çiftçi are happy about the situation of the DSM, they lack financial support, though they will not give up looking for sponsors. The meeting of the east and west created an accumulation, which will soon surround the region and hopefully interest other cities around Diyarbakır.